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Bill Fenwick

4/20/20

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Honouring Our Volunteers: Bill Fenwick

Without volunteers, the Canada Games wouldn’t be possible. Since the first Games took place in Quebec City back in 1967, over 100,000 individuals, whether professionals or not, have volunteered their time to help out in all facets of the Games, and they have done so with great pride. The Niagara 2021 Canada Games Host Society is very proud to continue that tradition of working with passionate volunteers, and is looking forward to welcoming over 4,000 for the Games in August 2021. In honour of National Volunteer Week, we are featuring our leadership team of volunteers, who have been with us since the beginning!

Bill Fenwick just can’t stay away from sports.

The 71-year-old London native grew up playing hockey and tennis before he devoted himself to working in sport for over four decades, including 11 years as the Director of Recreation and Community Services in St. Catharines from 1991-2002.

Add in five more years as Director of Culture and Recreation for the City of Hamilton, six years in Welland as the Director of Parks and Recreation and Director of Integrated Services, and it’s easy to see why Fenwick was a natural choice to be the Chair of the Games Services Committee for the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games.

“When I retired, I knew I was going to stay in sports some way,” Fenwick said. “I didn’t know which way, but I was quite fortunate because shortly after I retired I was approached about the [2016 Women’s World Hockey Championship in St. Catharines. That was extremely successful. I think our bottom line was a $400,000 profit. It encouraged me to stay involved more and more.”

Fenwick was then asked to come on board in a volunteer capacity with the Canada Summer Games and quickly realized it would be a perfect fit.

“I [also] served on the Niagara Sport Commission and this was just another follow up to that,” he said.

Fenwick’s primary responsibility is to oversee what will end up being 23 volunteer Chair positions who will be directly responsible for the 4,000+ volunteers the Games will require.

“From September until now, I’ve been working on getting people in those Chair positions,” he said. “We have already filled our core positions for technology, sport, venues and volunteers.”

Fenwick stressed that all the Chair positions are voluntary, despite the enormous time commitment.

“It’s people within the community who are very busy but have a strong commitment to give back,” he said. “That’s the reason I’m involved. I’ve always been involved in sports.”

Fenwick said it’s vital to fill the Chair positions with the proper volunteers.

“What I learned from Red Deer [2019 Canada Winter Games] is make sure you get the right people in the right positions for the Chair Committees,” he said. “We scour out the community to see who is available and interview those people and then make a decision.”

Fenwick said the vast majority of applicants want to be part of the Games for the right reasons.

“Most of the people are of the attitude they want to give back,” he said. “Some of the Chair positions, if we haven’t got the right people, then we go looking.

“We’ll get it done. Obviously there’s hiccups along the way. If we don’t get the right people in the position then we will make sure we get the right person. We’re not going to just put someone in a position if we don’t feel comfortable. Most of the people in the community are very busy.”

Fenwick marvels at how well the volunteers work with the Canada Games staff.

“The amazing thing is it’s all volunteers working with a strong staff. They are top notch. They come from all over to work here. They have the Canada Games concept and know how to organize things. Now it’s training the volunteers to be able to do the job.

“Most of the people in our Chair positions are people who network in the community and know a number of people. If we need someone to lead a sport, because I’ve been in the area 29 years, I know a number of people. A lot of the staff know a lot of people.”

Fenwick said he hopes to accomplish much more than simply filling all the positions with qualified applicants.

“The Canada Games is a legacy for infrastructure. My committee is trying to make it a legacy for the program and knowledge of our volunteers,” he said. “When these Games are over, we’re hoping we have a base of volunteers. It won’t matter what the sporting activity is, they’ll be able to go in.

“It’s a people legacy, a transfer of knowledge. We’re hoping they become so interested they can’t wait for the next one and we can get events in the future.”

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